In the Trenches: Dizzying Payroll Rules
I know I'm starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf, but I swear that I'm getting closer to actually hiring someone to help run the business. While hiring someone has always scared me, I'm starting to see that the real pain point is payroll.
Sure, there are concerns about hiring the right person, making sure I have insurance, and things like that. But the real issue for me is making sure that I'm able to keep up with payroll. Specifically, it's taxes that are the biggest concern.
Employers in the U.S. who handle payroll have to deal with paying social security, medicare, and federal unemployment tax. They also have to withhold taxes from the employee (which may include state taxes depending on where you are), and the amount is different for each person. In the oh-so-difficult state of California, there's also state unemployment and workers comp insurance that has to be paid, for even the first employee. Sound like a headache? That's nothing.
Tax payments should be made with each payroll run. There are quarterly reports due to the IRS and likely something similar to the state, depending on where you are. Different forms are required for different types of taxes. Then there are the W2s at year-end, along with all the paperwork behind the scenes as well. All in all, we're talking about dozens of different things that I have to remember to do each year. This is insane.
Fortunately, there are a lot of providers that are willing to help with this and it's not all that expensive considering all the work that needs to be done. In the end, it seems to me that it doesn't really matter who does it, as long as it's not me.
I could do this all myself if I wanted, but that's a huge waste of my time considering that as a small business, I can get payroll basically automated for less than $100 a month. Some options give more control than others -- for example, they may require that you manually approve each employee's hours worked -- but ultimately, any solution that helps is probably going to be well worth the money. More importantly, it makes hiring someone seem much less daunting.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.